As the undergraduate student government candidates develop their platforms for the approaching election, this board urges them not to focus on event planning and instead work toward instituting systemic change that will continue to benefit the student population in future years.
In recent years, many candidates have presented vague platforms that attempt to solve campus issues by planning informational events.
Although programming is necessary for campus vitality, these events usually have minimal lasting impact.
A quick glance at the platforms proposed by current councilmembers in the spring 2012 elections shows an over-reliance on events. For example, a multitude of forums were organized but sparsely attended throughout the year.
The most effective changes made by the Undergraduate Students Association Council in recent years have been those instituting programs that combat specific issues around UCLA and the Westwood community.
For example, three years ago, the internal vice president’s office coordinated with UCLA’s Community Service Officer program to set up Strathmore Safe Rides, which transports students across Westwood on Thursday nights.
A former financial supports commissioner worked with Associated Students UCLA to improve the rates of the textbook buyback program in Ackerman Union, a concrete benefit that worked to help student finances.
These programs are examples of changes USAC has made that will provide tangible resources for future students.
It is understandable that, at this point in the election process, the candidates are still fleshing out their platforms.
But candidates should keep in mind that many plans, whether they be event-based or institutional, often get sidetracked or canceled because of a lack of logistical foresight on the part of the councilmember. One such example was a failed plan to revitalize Sunset Recreation through a proposed music festival, which did not take into account fire codes in the buildings.
Candidates can set themselves apart in this contested election cycle by immediately starting to contact the appropriate external parties to assess the feasibility of long-lasting proposals that require more legwork.
This is not to say that informational events could not be of service. The community can benefit from forums addressing issues perpetually confronting the student body, such as keeping the undergraduate government more transparent, monitoring the campus climate, encouraging diversity and maintaining campus safety.
However, candidates should aim higher than that. This board would like to see future councilmembers that are looking to enact meaningful and enduring change, with research to back their platforms.